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Title: Autonomy and meaningfulness in old age : ethical perspectives arising from Mediterranean portrayals of ageing
Authors: Muscat Azzopardi, Marian
Keywords: Autonomy (Psychology) in old age
Issue Date: 2015
Abstract: This thesis seeks to contribute to current humanistic thinking on questions concerning meaningfulness and autonomy in old age. It is critical of individualistic conceptions of autonomy and of a decontextualized understanding of meaningfulness that takes insufficient account of connectedness and human vulnerability as defining human features. The academic boundaries of this thesis go beyond the original field of philosophy. It shares affinities with recent work in the field of literary gerontology. The overarching ethical framework adopted is a neo-Aristotelian one. The life course perspective also informs this thesis as it gives equal value both to individual agency and to human connectedness. It takes into account how chronological age, roles, relationships, life transitions, social structures and social change shape people’s lives. It also recognises the interplay of these dimensions with the behaviour and characteristics of the older person. The deeply human experience of ageing that is portrayed in episodes taken from six novels serve as a source of questioning and of analysis of a selection of themes. Age-related transitions, embodiment, reciprocal family care and death are the main themes that are discussed. The perspectives that are analysed can be broadly considered to be Mediterranean and to represent a reasonable balance between a Western secular perspective and a traditional Islamic perspective. While being faithful to the basic ideals of liberal theory, this thesis contributes to current critical analysis of the relevant nuances of a thicker and ‘refurbished’ conception of autonomy. It argues that this conception needs to be more tuned to the concrete lived experiences of old persons and of the persons close to them on whom their wellbeing may be most dependent. Thus, without denying the realities of old age, this thesis sheds light on conditions that support flourishing in old age. The thesis also contributes ‘thick’ descriptions of what makes life meaningful in old age and elements of what can constitute a ‘good’ old age. It sheds light on the manner in which cultural macro-narratives can influence the ways in which meaningfulness and autonomy in ageing can be sustained, conceptualised and internalised.
Description: PH.D.
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - InsMI - 2015

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